Sen. Orrin Hatch of the Republican party Utah, the longest-serving in the Senate and an influential lawmaker, member of Judiciary Committee, said on Tuesday that he plans to retire at the end of his term.
He announced his retirement in a video statement via Twitter on Tuesday.
Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976. He also is president pro tempore of the Senate, which is in the presidential line of succession.
The 83-year-old said he looks forward to spending more time with his family.“Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves, and to me that time is soon approaching,” Hatch said in a video announcement.
The resignation came amid widespread speculation that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could run for Hatch’s Senate seat.
The senator also played a key role in reducing the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in the US state of Utah.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, will seek the seat. President Donald Trump had urged Hatch to run again, but Hatch said in his last campaign that this would be his final term.
Romney, who at times has been a Trump critic, would probably enter the race as the front runner, given his own popularity in the state. He led the Olympic organizing committee in Salt Lake City in 2002, and has a home there.”variety report.
Romney said that he joins “the people of Utah in thanking my friend, Senator Orrin Hatch for his more than forty years of service to our great state and nation. As Chairman of the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees and as the longest-serving Republican Senator in U.S. history, Senator Hatch has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honour.”
The senator decided to retire just weeks after Trump signed a massive tax overhaul bill, legislation that capped Hatch’s long career. Hatch actively assisted in the writing of the tax plan as chair of the Senate Finance Committee
Trump has congratulated the senator through a tweet on Wednesday.
“Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career. He has been a tremendous supporter, and I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President. He is my friend and he will be greatly missed in the U.S. Senate!’